WRWA sponsors or participates in a variety of events during the year. Many of these events offer opportunities for volunteers to get involved with watershed issues. The listing below includes some specifics for 2003 events.
Atlantic Salmon Egg-Rearing Program (ASERP): WRWA provided chillers and tanks at the South Middle School in Westfield, the Memorial Elementary School in West Springfield, and the Gateway Regional Middle School in Huntington during the Spring of 2003. About 300 salmon eggs were delivered to each site in mid-February. Students monitored the hatching of the eggs and cared for the fry until they were stocked in local streams in mid-late May. Our thanks to Petco in Holyoke for a substantial discount on the tanks and some accessories, and to the Westfield WalMart for donation of some accessories for the ASERP project. Contact Mike Young if you'd like more information about the program or would be interested in volunteering a few hours next spring to help out with student environmental surveys or fry stocking.
Westfield River Symposium: WRWA sponsors an annual symposium each spring on watershed issues. Symposia feature talks, poster displays and, often, field trips. The 2003 symposium, with the theme "A Look at the Future: Water Resources and Open Space", was held on Saturday, March 29, 2003 at Westfield State College. Well over 100 participants attended and more than twenty exhibitors were present. Thanks to the symposium committee of Kathy Meyer, Mark Damon and Carl Grobe who did a great job of planning the event.
M-M Trail Hike (with Vernal Pools): Henry Warchol led this hike along the stretch of the M-M Trail from the MassPike to Rt. 202 (about 4 miles), with stops to investigate the life of some vernal pools along the way, on Saturday, April 12, 2003. Thanks to Henry Warchol (562-3467) for organizing the event.
DSI Fishway Staffing: In the absence of state funding to support operation of the fishway this spring, Henry Warchol (562-3467) organized a cadre of volunteers from WRWA, Trout Unlimited and the Appalachian Mountain Club to monitor the passage of fish and eels upstream past West Springfield. From mid-April to early July the volunteers, including Diane Crowell, Thomas Eaton, Pat Fletcher, Stan Gula, Alexander Hindmarsh, Rex Hryniewicz, Ronald Lucassen, Dario Masciadrelli, John Murphy, Leon Pothier, Dietrich Schlobohm, John Sinton, Henry Warchol, Ken Witek and Ted Ziskowski put in more than 600 volunteer hours to keep this facility operating!
Atlantic Salmon Fry Stocking: Each year WRWA volunteers assist Massachusetts DFW personnel in stocking salmon fry in the Westfield River and its tributaries. WRWA specifically committed to providing volunteers on Saturday, April 26 (Dickenson and Munn Brooks) and Saturday, May 10 (Middle Branch of Westfield R.) in 2003. Check the 2003 Fry Stocking Schedule and follow the instructions there, or contact Gabe Khatchadourian (568-3005) for additional information. You can check on the numbers of returning fish (salmon, shad) at the USFWS daily fish count webpage.
Annual Meeting: This year's annual meeting was held on Thursday, May 15 at Abijah Willard's in Chester. A social hour from 5:30 to 6:30 was followed by a brief business meeting at 6:30 and dinner at 7:00. The 2003 Waite Award was given to Henry Warchol. Alexandra Dawson, a well-known local environmental lawyer was the after-dinner speaker. Cost was $20/person for adults, with a choice of entrees. Thanks to Kathy Meyer (568-4252) and the membership committee for organizing this event.
DSI/FiberMark Fishway Open House: More than 500 people visited the fishway/eelway at FiberMark in West Springfield (70 Front St.) on Sunday, May 18. This facility provides upstream passage around the power dam at this location. Thanks to Gabe Khatchadourian (568-3005) who organized this year's event.
Biodiversity Days Botany Walk: About 15 people joined WSC biologist Dave Lovejoy for a walk along some of the trails in the Frank Stanley Beveridge Wildlife Sanctuary at Stanley Park in Westfield on Saturday, May 31. These trails provide a diversity of habitats including old field, marsh, swamp, streamside, and upland wooded sites. Thanks to Dave Lovejoy (572-5307) for his willingness to share his expertise, despite a bad cold.
Canoe Cruise: Despite nearly continuous rain, about 15 paddlers joined us on Saturday, June 7 to paddle the 6 mile stretch of the Westfield River from downtown Westfield to the Robinson State Park in West Springfield! A $5/person fee was required for non-members to cover the cost of insurance. Thanks to Michael Vorwerk (572-5305) and his wife Karen for organizing this event.
Keystone Arch Bridges Walk: About 15 people joined Dave Pierce of the Friends of the Keystone Arches on Saturday, June 21 for a moderate hike out to two of the old bridges. Dave explained the history of the bridges and the area on this roughly 3-hour walk. A $5/person donation to help support conservation of the keystone arch bridges was requested. Thanks to Dave for sharing his knowledge of these architectural treasures.
Stream Connectivity Survey: In conjunction with the Riverways program and The Nature Conservancy, WRWA sponsored a workshop on stream connectivity on Saturday, June 21 at Westfield State College. About 15 participants learned how to evaluate the impact of culverts and bridges on fish and wildlife movement along stream corridors, then put that knowledge to work by surveying structures along Munn Brook and its tributaries in Westfield, Southwick and Granville. This was the inaugural event in a longer term project to collect this data for the entire watershed. The event was organized by Mike Young (572-5741), Carrie Banks (413-773-5031, Mass Riverways), and Alison Bowden (The Nature Conservancy).
DSI Fishway Staffing: As he has done for the past several years, Henry Warchol (562-3467) organized volunteers from WRWA, Trout Unlimited and the Appalachian Mountain Club to monitor the passage of fish and eels upstream this fall. From early September to late October the volunteers, including Stan Gula, Alexander Hindmarsh, Dario Masciadrelli, John Murphy, Leon Pothier, Henry Warchol, Ken Witek and Ted Ziskowski put in approximately 150 volunteer hours to operate the fishway!
River Cleanup (Warm-Up): This year WRWA sponsored an additional cleanup (see also the October 4 event) on Saturday, September 20, which attracted about 20 volunteers - who cleaned up trash at several sites along Rt. 20 in Westfield. Thanks to Gabe Khatchadourian (568-3005) who suggested an additional cleanup day and organized the event.
Stream Connectivity Survey: Ten people showed up to help survey culverts and bridges in the Becket-Washington on Saturday, September 27. This was our second day working on the stream connectivity survey of the watershed, and we hope that our volunteers will be able to continue this work independently during the fall. The event was organized by Mike Young (572-5741), Carrie Banks (413-773-5031, Mass Riverways), and Alison Bowden (The Nature Conservancy).
River Cleanup: Our annual fall river clean-up was held on Saturday, October 4 in conjunction with the Connecticut River Council's "Source to Sea" cleanup. About 50 people showed up on a cool, cloudy Saturday to pick up trash along the river at a number of locations in the hilltowns as well as in Westfield/West Springfield. Thanks to Gabe Khatchadourian (568-3005) who did a great job of putting together this year's cleanup.
Noble View Hike: Join us on Saturday, October 11 at 10:00 a.m. for a hike from the AMC Noble View Camp (in Russell) into the Cobble Mountain - Westfield River watershed area, exploring old stone farmhouse foundations and taking in the view at several lookout points. The roughly 4-mile walk will visit a brick kiln that was used for gunpowder manufacturing, and the foliage should be near its peak. A trail use fee is required at Noble View. Contact Gary Forish (562-6792), the trip leader, for more information.
Naturalists' Club Lecture: Join the Naturalists' Club on Wednesday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Museum Auditorium at the Quadrangle in Springfield for a lecture by Bob Wilber, Director of Land Protection for Mass Audubon. Bob's talk is titled "Our Land: Going, Going, Gone", and details the urgent need to protect critical wildlife and plant habitat in Massachusetts. Bob's power point presentation explores the dimensions of the problem and provides information on how you can become involved. Contact Dietrich Schlobohm (413-788-4125) for more information or for travel directions.
Sanderson Brook Falls Hike: Join us for this 3-4 mile hike to one of the most spectacular falls in the watershed and to an overlook of the valley of the West Branch of the Westfield River on Saturday, October 18 from 9:00 a.m. til about 2:00 p.m. Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch, raingear, and plenty of water. Heavy rain cancels. The meeting place is at the Sanderson Brook Falls parking area, just south of Rt. 20 in Chester (across from Bannish Lumber, before you reach much development as you drive west on Rt. 20). Please contact Tom Condon (413-564-0895) ahead of time to sign up.
October Mountain Forest Hike: Join us for this 5-6 mile hike along the gently rolls hills of October Mountain State Forest on Sunday, November 2 from 9:00 a.m. til about 4:00 p.m. After a car shuttle, we'll start the hike off County Road in Becket, hiking along the Appalachian Trail to Finerty Pond, Becket and Walling Mountains. Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch, raingear, and plenty of water. Heavy rain cancels. The meeting place is the entrance to the commuter parking lot at Westfield State College in Westfield. Please contact Tom Condon (413-564-0895) ahead of time to sign up.
Geography Lecture: WRWA and the WSC Geography and Regional Planning Dept. are sponsoring a lecture by Richard Wilkie of UMass, Amherst on Wednesday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. The talk is titled "Habitats of Transition and Change in New England", and will be held in Wilson Auditorium A on the WSC campus. Interested teachers may earn PDPs by signing up for a related workshop. Please contact Rob Bristow (572-5595) for additional information or directions.